Understanding Your Filling Machine: the Manual Toggle Screen

Understanding Your Filling Machine:  The Manual Toggle Screen

Operators will normally interact with an automatic filling machine through the use of a touch screen found on the control box for the equipment.  The touch screen interface will include a number of different screens used to set up fill times, indexing times and other functions of the packaging equipment.  Other screens will be used to save and load those settings.  The manual toggle screen, discussed below, allows an operator of a liquid filler to physically access the machine, helping with items such as troubleshooting, changeover and maintenance.

The manual toggle screen can include controls for several different filler functions, depending on the type of machine being used.  Each setting on the manual toggle screen will have two options from which the operator may choose.  The first will be a setting of auto, meaning the selection will function normally during automatic production runs.  The second option will change depending on the item being controlled.  We will look at a few of the more common screens found on manual toggle functions:


The manual toggle menu can be used to allow the conveyor to run continuously, which can be helpful in clearing bottle jams as well as setting up the conveyor system itself.  This control may sometimes be used in conjunction with the gates or the starwheel explained below to let bottles move smoothly through the fill area of the automatic machine.


These two separate settings are for both the entry gate air cylinder and the exit gate air cylinder on machines with pin indexing.  Either the entry gate or the exit gate can be set to remain open from the manual toggle screen, again assisting in clearing bottle jams and filling machine set up.


Some liquid fillers will use starwheel indexing rather than the entry and exit gates described above.  Again, the starwheel can be set to release from the manual toggle screen.  This allows bottles to simply pass through the wheel for the purpose of clearing the fill area or setting up the same.


Drip trays, in general, move under fill heads once a fill cycle is complete to stop excess product from creating a mess on the outside of bottles or on the conveyor system.  During clean up and routine maintenance, the manual toggle screen can be used to retract the drip tray, allowing easy access to nozzles and other filling machine parts, as well as the drip tray itself.


The locate feature on a automatic filler will normally control some type of bottle neck grabber or stabilizer.  These accessories are used to keep unusually shaped bottles in place under the nozzles during the filling process.  The manual toggle screen allows the operator to extend the locators, assisting in set up to ensure proper positioning.


While not all automatic fillers will use a head dive, it is a common feature.  The manual toggle screen allows the operator to bring the heads to their down position, which can again assist in set up to ensure bottles will not be crushed or otherwise harmed during the fill process.  


The manual toggle screen will also allow an operator to turn a fill pump to the on position.  This can allow product to be removed from the machine at the end of a production run.  In addition, the pump may be turned to the on position to assist in cleaning the product pathway of a machine when a Clean In Place system is not being used on the machine.

The manual toggle screen of an automatic filling machine may include a number of additional controls as well.  Different principles used on the equipment - overflow, gravity, piston - will lead to different controls on the screen menu.  Operators should always be aware of the available functions and the options for controlling those functions before attempting to take manual control of the machine.